Backpacking in Taiwan – Kaohsiung and Tainan

Day 122, 25th of October of 2017 (106 according to the Minguo Calendar). 26°C, clear sky and no wind. After being told that Kenting is exclusively for tourists I decided to skip it and went straight to Tainan, making a strategic stop at Kaohsiung to see the giant Buddha.

The train ride from from Taitung to Kaohsiung is particularly beautiful. The tracks wind across mountains and steep valleys of luxuriant green forest for about 1h.

View from the train

Once in Kaohsiung took the bus to Fo Guang Shan Monastery, which also houses a huge Buddhism Center and Museum, where is possible to learn about the life of the Prince Siddhārtha Gautama, later know as Buddha and on whose teachings Buddhism was found. The Center also explains the principles and practices of Buddhism, as well as its festivities in Taiwan. Nonetheless, it was very sad to notice the hypocrisy: a place devoted to teach humbleness, simplicity and spirituality is all shiny and grandiose and materialist…

Fo Guang Chan complex
The giant Buddha

Afterwards took the bus directly from Fo Guang Shan to Tainan, where I arrived around 8pm. My Couchsurfing host for that night, Yun, was already waiting for me at the bus station. Yun, a 22 years old business management student, lived with two roommates at an apartment close to the university. They were really nice, took me to dinner (twice!), asked me a lot of questions about Europe and one of them even took me to taste the local breakfast on the day after… Beef soup at 6am!

Beef soup for breakfast

Tainan was initially established by the Dutch East India Company as a ruling and trading base 1624-1661. After Dutch colonists were defeated by Koxinga Tainan remained as the capital of the Tungning Kingdom until 1683 and afterwards the capital of Taiwan Prefecture under Qing Dynasty rule until 1887, when the new provincial capital was moved to Taipei. Thus being probably the most historical place in Taiwan, providing interesting sights such as the Fort Zealand, the Eternal Gold Fort and the Chikan Tower.

Dutch painting at Fort Zealand
Eternal Gold Fort
Chikan Tower

Travel tip: you can buy a combined ticket to visit this monuments.

For lunch went to a traditional market and opted to taste a tofu soup. Delicious!

Tofu soup

After lunch took the train to my next destination: Chiayi.

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